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Spinach is a versatile vegetable, popular worldwide, it can be pureed or chopped and can be mixed with a range of other ingredients with superb results. It was first cultivated in Persia several thousands of years ago.  It is mentioned in the first  known English cookery book, where it was referred to as spynoches, which echoes the Spanish word for spinach which is espinacas. It quickly became popular vegetable, probably because it is quick and easy to grow and easy and quick to cook.

Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin C if eaten raw as well as vitamins A and B, calcium, potassium and iron.  Spinach grows all year round, so you should have no difficulty in buying it fresh. Frozen spinach is a poor substitute, mainly because it has so little flavor, so it is worth the effort to use the fresh product.

Spinach leaves should be green and lively, if they look tired and the stalks are floppy, find something in better condition. Spinach reduces significantly when cooked, about 450g will serve two people. It is best to store it in the salad drawer of the fridge, where it will keep for 1-2 days. Wash spinach well in a bowl of cold water and remove any tough or large stalks.

Spinach can be used in a variety of ways. It can be chopped and served with lots of butter or similarly served with other spring vegetables such as baby carrots or young broad beans. Alternatively, puree it for sauces or blend it for soups.

Spinach is also delicious raw, served with chopped bacon or croutons.  A fresh spinach salad is delicious as the leaves have just the right balance of flavor sharp but not over powering.    



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